I like to pretend that I have plenty of money, that if I needed I could outside and just strip the trees and the bushes and wealth would tumble from my fingers and all of our needs and, mostly, our wants would be satisfied.
Even if for just five minutes.
But that isn’t the truth. All those dreams that I have concocted of winning the lottery (that I never play unless the numbers are excruciatingly high and to ignore it is too painful because I don’t have enough beeswax in my ears) are little colorful fragments of wisps that were too frail to coalesce into nothing more than a tiny bit of smoke.
I would crack the world in half and hand it to you, give you all you dreamed of and wanted. I would pull my emotions out of my ears and stand as a husk so that, for once, you would see that I am satisfied and happy. No more “I don’t know what will make you happy.”
You make me happy. The way your smile unfurls across your face. The snub of your nose. The crisp blue in your eyes. The way you listen when I have nothing to say but tons of words slamming against my heart with each pulsation.
You make me happy with your strength of being, with the way that you shamelessly live for yourself and for me and for your passions that are unkempt and scattered randomly across the floor.
You make me happy with how you curl against me and rest your head in my lap and briefly look at me before falling asleep.
You make me happy with your neediness and your aloofness, with your dependency coupled with and laid beside your independence.
I want to wrap up all those little things that you want and give them to you. Lay them in the manger at your feet and watch your eyes illuminate, even if for only a moment before the frenzy of opening gifts elapses and the disappointment sets in.
And then I would love to give you more and more, anything to stave off the sickening disappointment because it wasn’t enough.
The colors were right.
It wasn’t the right version.
It wasn’t smart enough or techy enough or cool like everyone else’s cool things.
My gift to you is “no.”
My gift to you is “what do you think?”
My gift to you is the fact that I have stood back and watched you walk your path and trip over the little rocks that I warned you were there but you were too busy staring at the spider web or the brilliantly colored mushroom growing out of the dead tree over there.
My gift to you is denial with love, a requirement to earn what you want as opposed to handing it to you in golden paper and on silver platters.
My gift to you is your ability to make a decision and then to live with the consequences of those decisions. Of course, I watch you make your decision and, every now and then–when I need to–I tweak the parameters to make sure that you don’t destroy yourself.
But if you fall, I let you land on your knees and scuff your skin. I’ll be there when you are looking for how to rise. I’ll be the one with the Band-Aid.
My gift to you is the pleasure of laughter after a bad joke, the “yes” when you want to find your own path, the little bit of light when you are lost after losing sight of where you were supposed to go.
My gift to you is the permanent ink numbers I wrote on your hand so that when you are lost and afraid, you can call me and I will find you and you will never, truly be lost. Only misplaced for a short amount of time.
My gift to you is a world that I haven’t broken in half and shook as hard as I could so that I could make all the precious resources float to the top and I could skim them into a net and dump everything into your outstretched hands.
No, my gift to you is a shovel, a pickaxe, and a set of skills that you wear around your waist on a leather belt tooled by my mother and softened by my years of bending over and digging and digging and digging for the gold that I knew was just beneath the surface.
My gift to you is the appreciation for something simple: a rainbow’s upside down smile on a brilliantly rainy afternoon, the sudden shock of joy during a meteor shower, the love of cold water pouring down your back and soaking your hair, the shudder of laughter that awakens the soul, the tender warmth of wool socks and flannel pajamas on a winter’s day, the quiet morning on the side of a mountain as the mist is combed through the pine trees.
My gift to you is struggle with a safety net. I might not be holding your hand because I am moving the inflated bag beneath you in case you fall.
My gift to you is the knowledge that maybe doesn’t always mean no. My gift to you is compromise when I don’t want to budge and giving your opinions validity when you don’t have the experience needed to make a good decision.
My gift to you are chipped fingernails because you have plunged your hands into the dirt to create a world of beauty. My gift to you is a lack of fear when everyone around you demands terror because of the creepy-crawlies.
My gift to you is an open door tempered with a seat belt, freedom with borders, the ability to explore while wearing a helmet.
Take the world, my beloved. Take it all and hold it and love it. And when the world pricks your fingers and makes you bleed, I’ll be there, to clean and wrap the cuts.